Cultural Insights for Success: Doing Business With the Japanese

Posted on
Like what you see? Share it.Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

<strong>New York &mdash; April 21</strong><br />While Japan&rsquo;s economy has not been booming as it was in the 1980s and &rsquo;90s, it remains the world&rsquo;s third-largest economy and an important focus of global business. To many whom do business with Japan, its protocol and prescribed ways of communicating and behaving can seem daunting.<br /><br />&ldquo;In spite of its extensive exposure to Western culture and its prominent position in the global economy, Japan retains its deeply rooted cultural practices,&rdquo; said Michael S. Schell CEO of RW³, a provider of cultural learning and global information, headquartered in New York City. &ldquo;To be successful in that environment, you need to learn to appreciate and learn the basics of this fascinating culture. The good news is that Japanese practices are particularly interesting to study, and once mastered, will enable people to function comfortably in its dynamic marketplace.&rdquo;<br /><br />Some basic cultural knowledge that will be helpful includes: <br /><br />&bull; The Japanese believe working in harmony is crucial. <br />&bull; From childhood, the Japanese learn the "correct" way to behave in any situation so they do not call attention to themselves.<br />&bull; The Japanese place great emphasis on politeness, personal responsibility and working together for the universal good.<br />&bull; Japanese rely heavily on nonverbal communication. They seldom overtly display emotion or facial expressions. It is important to recognize that they prefer to avoid saying &ldquo;no&rdquo; and will give subtle cues instead.<br />&bull; Nonverbal communication is extremely important. Expressions to watch out for include inhaling through clenched teeth, tilting the head, scratching the back of the head and scratching the eyebrow. They mean that the individual is having trouble with your question and still doesn&rsquo;t feel comfortable saying &ldquo;no.&rdquo;<br />&bull; The Japanese may agree to meet with you out of politeness, even if they have no interest in working with your company. The way to know that this is the case is if a junior staff member attends the meeting, rather than senior management. <br />&bull; Business cards are presented when being introduced. They are an important part of the hierarchical structure of the country and give you a clue as to the status of the individual. Treat them with care. Hold the card with two hands with the fingers holding the top corners of the card. It is customary to bow slightly when presenting a business card.<br />&bull; When you receive a business card, show &ldquo;proper&rdquo; respect by reading the card and placing it in front of you at the meeting table.<br />&bull; Greetings in Japan are formal and based upon the status of the people involved. Although foreigners are not expected to bow, doing so demonstrates respect. <br />&bull; Conservative business attire is the norm for both men and women.<br />&bull; When addressing the Japanese, use the person&#39;s surname with the appropriate title or their surname with word "san" appended to it. Do not use first names until you are told to do so.<br />&bull; Negative questions can cause confusion. If asked, &ldquo;Isn&rsquo;t this document ready?&rdquo; an American would respond &ldquo;no,&rdquo; meaning the document is not ready. The Japanese respond &ldquo;yes,&rdquo; meaning &ldquo;Yes, the document is not ready.&rdquo;<br />&bull; In crowded situations, the Japanese give themselves privacy by avoiding eye contact. This is why many Japanese close their eyes while riding in an elevator. <br />&bull; Gifts are frequently given in Japan. Take great care with the wrapping. The way the gift is wrapped and the way it is presented can be more important than the gift itself. <br />&bull; Meals are often served in many small dishes. It is rude to eat everything from one dish before eating from the other dishes.<br /><br />RW³ LLC provides online global cultural learning tools and information resources for organizations doing business in the global arena. The firm also conducts management training programs to enhance intercultural business skills. <br />

Like what you see? Share it.Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone
cmadmin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Posted in News|

Comment: